Quantcast

Climate Crisis Contributes to a Rise in World Hunger, UN Report Says

Food
Somalians fight against hunger and lack of water due to drought as Turkish Ambassador to Somalia, Olgan Bekar (not seen) visits the a camp near the Mogadishu's rural side in Somalia on March 25, 2017. Sadak Mohamed / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

World hunger is on the rise for the third consecutive year after decades of decline, a new United Nations (UN) report says. The climate crisis ranks alongside conflict as the top cause of food shortages that force more than 821 million people worldwide to experience chronic hunger. That number includes more than 150 million children whose growth is stunted due to a lack of food.


The UN's Sustainable Development Goals of eradicating hunger and all forms of malnutrition faces growing roadblocks as the climate crisis worsens and triggers conflicts over resource management. In fact, the report calls the ambitious target an "immense challenge," as the number of hungry people rose by 10 million in the last year.

"We will not achieve zero hunger by 2030," said David Beasley, head of the World Food Program, one of the UN agencies contributing to the report, as Channel News Asia reported. "That's a bad trend. Without food security we will never have peace and stability."

Beasley also criticized the media's obsession with Brexit and Donald Trump, rather than using its influence to highlight children dying of hunger. He went on to warn that extremist groups will weaponize food supplies, using it to recruit new members and divide communities, according to Channel News Asia.

Climate change is also leading to droughts and increasingly extreme weather that threatens crop yields.

"Climate change is having far-reaching effects on agricultural productivity and food security," William Lacy Swing, the UN Migration Director General, in a statement. "It is among the main reasons for the record numbers of people compelled to migrate from rural areas to towns and cities around the world."

This year has seen food stocks drop from flooding, early and high heat near the arctic and tropical storms.

In Zimbabwe, for example, an already suffering economy is starting to shrink from sustained and drought and from a devastating cyclone.

"Fuel remains difficult to access," said Nathan Hayes of the Economist Intelligence Unit analysis agency, as Deutsche Welle reported. "There are major shortages of bread, as domestic maize production has been decimated and the country cannot afford to pay for imports."

Drought also has Kenya in the crosshairs of food insecurity. "The long rain season is normally from March till end of May," said Peter Abiya Ochola of the National Drought Management Authority in Kenya. "This year, for example we had very poor rain season. It started late in April and lasted just three weeks with some little rain showers."

Drought years are increasingly common in Kenya, happening once every two or three years, as opposed to the more normal every five years, said Ochola. He estimated that 1.5 million people in Kenya are affected by this year's drought — particularly farmers whose fields or livestock depend on rain.

"The impact on food security is bad," said Ochola, as Deutsche Welle reported.

While the drift towards increasing global hunger is disturbing, the UN report remains optimistic that zero hunger is still achievable with the right political commitments, bolder action and intelligent investments.

"Our actions to tackle these troubling trends will have to be bolder, not only in scale but also in terms of multisectoral collaboration," the heads of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Program (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) urged in their joint foreword to the report, according to a UN Climate Change statement.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Jennifer Molidor, PhD

Climate change, habitat loss and pollution are overwhelming our planet. Thankfully, these enormous threats are being met by a bold new wave of environmental activism.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump mocked water-efficiency standards in new constructions last week. Trump said, "People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So, EPA is looking at that very strongly, at my suggestion." Trump asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a federal review of those standards since, he claimed with no evidence, that they are making bathrooms unusable and wasting water, as NBC News reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
(L) Rushing waters of Victoria Falls at Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, Zimbabwe pictured in January 2018. Edwin Remsberg / VW PICS / UIG / Getty Images (R) Stark contrast of Victory Falls is seen on Nov. 13, 2019 after drought has caused a decline. ZINYANGE AUNTONY / AFP / Getty Images

The climate crisis is already threatening the Great Barrier Reef. Now, another of the seven natural wonders of the world may be in its crosshairs — Southern Africa's iconic Victoria Falls.

Read More Show Less

Monsanto's former chairman and CEO Hugh Grant speaks about "The Coming Agricultural Revolution" on May 17, 2016. Fortune Brainstorm E / Flickr

By Carey Gillam

Former Monsanto Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant will have to testify in person at a St. Louis-area trial set for January in litigation brought by a cancer-stricken woman who claims her disease was caused by exposure to the company's Roundup herbicide and that Monsanto covered up the risks instead of warning consumers.

Read More Show Less
A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.